Action / Visual Effects

Extraterrestrials, fantastical worlds, colorful mutants, shape-shifters – and a whole lot in the way of explosions, gunfire, and characters raining destruction down on their surroundings has been on display in all the trailers for these comic book movies. So which one looks the coolest so far?

Thor has featured some truly epic CGI landscapes, fantastical beasts, and scenes of the titular hero laying the smackdown on his opponents with his trusty hammer, Mjolnir. There has also been some standard slo-mo cinematography and curious usage of Dutch (read: slanted) camera angles in the action-oriented scenes set on Earth, which could prove to be a bit distracting in the final product.

Overall, though, the combination of impressive digital imagery, gorgeous practical sets and costumes, and fight scenes that clearly involve either the film’s stars or their stunt doubles – instead of just CGI stand-ins – looks good enough to ensure that Thor will definitely triumph in the style department.

Captain America footage has included a fair amount of practical effects, used to create some snazzy 1940s-era battle sequences (shootouts, hand to hand combat, etc.). The visual trickery used to create the illusion of Evans’ Steve Rogers being short and scrawny – prior to his treatment with the super soldier serum – is nicely done, though at times it does look a bit fake.

Some of the sci-fi technology and vehicles revealed in the Captain America previews have looked a bit too over-the-top and incongruous with the period setting. My issue with that material is that it that it looks a bit too modern, and less like advanced tech that would’ve existed during WWII.

X-Men: First Class looks to fall somewhere between X3 and the first two X-Men films on the action scale – which makes sense, given how this series has generally been more meditative in nature than a number of its peers. What visual F/X have been on display so far – be it Emma Frost (January Jones) turning into diamond form, or Magneto lifting a submarine into the atmosphere – looks quite flawless.

However, the visuals shown from X-Men: First Class haven’t jumped out or left as much of an impression as some of the other comic book movies arriving this summer. That’s not a bad thing, per se, but it does mean the other films may be better at giving fans their action fix.

While’s Reynold’s face mask for Green Lantern still seems kind of pasted on, his CGI costume appears to have been noticeably improved, based off the recent WonderCon preview. Other digital creations like Parallax, Tomar-Re, and the Oa landscape are rich in color and definitely deserve to be called eye-popping, while the makeup and prosthetics used to create Abin Sur, Sinestro and Hector Hammond make those characters look as convincing (more so, arguably) as their computer-crafted counterparts.

What short bits of Hal Jordan using his Lantern powers in battle look pretty fantastic as well. It’s possible Green Lantern will feel too CGI-heavy when watched in theaters, but that doesn’t appear to be the case at this point.

Verdict: I’m calling this one a tie between Green Lantern and Thor right now, since both promise to have loads of excellent CGI work and awe-inspiring action.

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